Thursday, June 20, 2013

Helping Kids Cope When a Parent is Incarcerated



Dealing with parental incarceration poses multiple challenges for children.  Sesame Street has responded by introducing a character, Alex, who is grappling with this very issue.  I am aware of how profoundly children are impacted by this issue, from my work with scores of kids across the years who have been asked to deal with this very life-changing concern.

I just got word that my colleague, and co-author of Bloom, will be tackling this tough topic today, live on Fox Radio.  Check out Dr. Lynne Kenney's post, with all of the information regarding her radio tour today here.

Here is the response I left on Dr. Kenney's blog, in regards to this new character on Sesame Street:

"This is critically important for the millions of kids who grapple with this issue. I have seen it firsthand, many times over, in my therapy practice. The impact is profound and far reaching. I am happy that Sesame Street is providing support and a relatable way for kids to begin to process their feelings surrounding this issue. The millions of kids aren’t just numbers. They are living, breathing, feeling, REAL people whose lives are turned upside down. Having a parent go to prison is trauma-laden and steeped in social stigma. Sadly, I have worked with a number of kids for whom BOTH parents are incarcerated. Thank you, Sesame Street…and thanks, Dr. Lynne, for shining a light on this hugely important social topic."

One in 28 Kids are Affected

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, one in 28 kids are affected by having an incarcerated parent.  This number skyrockets to one in nine for African American children, which demonstrates the clear inequities for diverse social, economic and racial populations.  This compelling statistic does not escape me, nor has it ever.  Seeing the numbers so clearly in the Pew Charitable Trust report highlights this social issue (which is not the intent of this post, but I cannot refrain from mentioning this unjust truth.)



Here are some resources that can help:

1.  Sesame Street Tip Sheet

2. Complete Kits to Help Kids from Sesame Street (free)

3. The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated

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